Memory is one of the cognitive processes and it is unique to mankind. It guides in different ways. The process of memory in children is different from adults. It plays a major role in emotional, cognitive and social functioning. It is a topic of discussion in recent years.
Do Food Supplements Really Help to Improve Memory in Children?
The supplements through diet which support the brain development and brain capacity should not be neglected here. The food supplements in turn enhance many cognitive processes including memory. The foods which provide omega-3-fatty acids such as DHA (DocosaHexanoic Acid) and EPA (EicosaPentanoic Acid) should be included in the diet. These foods apart from assisting to maintain overall health especially heart, skin, eyes, etc., they also help in increasing memory, enhancing the learning abilities, increasing the performance, and decreasing the risks of Alzheimer and Dementia.
How is Memory Created in Childhood?
Memories are usually not recorded prior to two and half years to three years of age. Between three to six years of age, a very few memories would be recorded and recalled. According to the early research works, the recalled memories are in the form of pieces of information and not in the form of episodes. Now the concept has been changed and found that there are a few cases of reporting some information as episodic memories.
As per one classification, memory in children can be divided into two main kinds, one is working memory and the other one is long term memory. Working memory is temporary and can be for a few seconds where as long term memory is somewhat like permanent and remains within us for long duration. Even long term memory can be further classified into explicit (declarative) and implicit (nondeclarative). Implicit memory accompany an infant from birth may not be intentional, it is automatically learnt or followed just by observing whereas explicit is a recollection or remembering of objects, events and names which essentially requires consciousness.
Development of Brain in Children
In infants the development of brain would be very fast. By the age of 2 years of age, the infants usually have an increase in weight of brain from 25% to 75%. All the parts of the brain do not grow at the same rate. In the prenatal period itself the areas related to declarative memory is developed but would be matured when the infant reaches the age of 1 year to 1 and half years. It is found in the medial temporal lobe of brain and is called hippocampus. The development of synapses which is thought to increase the memory would be in a faster rate. The highest development reaches by the age of 2 years.
Can the Memory in Children be Increased?
Infantile amnesia is a condition, where the infant fails to remember the events happened before 2 years of age. This is very common almost in everyone. A toddler manages to recollect the incidents he/she faced till ten months after the first experience. Memories can be increased in toddlers if they are provided with some routines.
Learning by doing is also one of the best ways to boost the memory of children. Children recognize the people just by looking at the picture. Memory can be improved by different activities like creating rhymes and songs for remembering, encouraging active learning, creating mind maps, breaking information into smaller chunks and then learning, etc.
Which are the Best Food Supplements to Improve Memory in Children?
There are many food supplements which may be included in the diet to improve the memory of the children. Some of them are:
- Salmon. It is a fatty fish which is very rich in omega 3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA. Using salmon in the form of salads, soups, and patties would be helpful.
- Peanut butter. Vitamin E is very essential for protection of nerve membranes, needed for development of nervous system. It is also an antioxidant. It is found in Peanut butter.
- Oats. Energy required for the brain is provided by oats and it is the best morning food for children. Along with that, it also contains vitamin E, zinc, potassium and other B vitamins which are essential for the brain to function efficiently.
- Eggs. An important substance called choline is present in eggs which are helpful in improving memory in children. Eggs are rich source of protein which is needed for growth of body tissues.
- Berries. Fruits like blueberries, cherries, blackberries, strawberries are rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants. The seeds also contain omega 3 fatty acid. These fruits help in improving memory also.
- Whole Grains. B vitamins which are most important for a healthy nervous system is obtained from whole grains. They also provide glucose as and when it is required.
- Beans. Beans contain protein, edible fiber, omega 3 fatty acids particularly rich in ALA (Alpha Lipoic Acid) and complex carbs. They provide excellent energy and help to keep the thinking level of brain at peak if it is consumed in the afternoon.
- Milk and Milk Products. These are rich in B vitamins, vitamin D and proteins. Low fat milk products are necessary for the children as they support the production of enzymes, neurotransmitter and growth of brain tissues.
- Vegetables. Other vegetables like pumpkin, tomatoes, spinach, sweet potatoes, carrots, lentils, cauliflower are also required to keep the brain healthy and also strong as they are rich in antioxidants.
- Oils. Edible vegetable oils like virgin olive oil, sesame seeds oil are rich in MUFA (MonoUnsaturaturated Fatty Acids) which helps in development of brain.
- Foods containing Folic Acid. Some foods which are really have folic acid in abundant quantity like oranges, broccoli, spinach, soybeans are needed for children. Folic acid is also an important nutrient which enhances the growth of brain.
Are There Foods Which Do Not Support Brain Development?
While talking about the foods to be included in diet, we also should concentrate on some foods which hinder the development of brain. The foods which are the hindrances for children’s brain are listed below and are to be avoided.
Caffeinated drinks. The aerated drinks may contain caffeine; a substance causes nervousness, headache, stomach ache, jumpiness. It is dangerous if consumed in excess for adults also.
Foods rich in High Trans fats. The trans fats are proved to affect memory in children adversely which is commonly found in readymade cake frosting, frozen pizza, etc. These are found to decrease the level of neurotransmitter called serotonin causing depression.
Processed Foods. Instant noodles, packed pizzas, burgers, packed chips etc can bring about behavioral changes like lack of focus, also cause mood swings, and reduce the cognitive ability.
Sugar. Children mostly like high sugar foods like candies, cakes, ice-creams, etc. Excess usage of these foods cause restlessness, hyperactivity, affect the appetite, weakens the immune system, stomach ache, etc.
Colorful Foods. The foods like candies, jellies would be prepared using different colors to attract children which cause headaches, anxiety, cognitive problems, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) in children.
Human beings are differentiated from other animals in animal kingdom only by his memory, a cognitive process. It is very essential to know the factors which are supportive to produce, to increase and to enhance the memory. Based on one fact that most of the neurons are produced in children by the age of 5 years, it is very essential to concentrate on the children. The elders need to assist to increase the short term and long term memories in children. By following some activities and consuming a well-balanced diet, one can help to improve the memory in children. Nowadays, as the generation is more influenced by the instant and processed foods, it is very much essential to chuck them as they are not required for the health of brain.